Italian +971 4 441 6342 Jumeirah Lakes Towers (JLT)
It may be chain-y and, well, Pizza Express, but we’ve long been fond of the Jazz@ branch in Jumeirah Lakes Towers, with its devotion to live music, laid-back atmosphere and good-value pricing.

Since the restaurant recently underwent a revamp, we’re only too happy to return.

Its outdoor area has hugely improved, now feeling more like a restaurant than someone’s backyard. Inside, the relocation of the stage to the entrance of the restaurant divides opinion on our table – in fact, the whole overhaul of the interiors does (it feels a bit clunky and disorganised – our dining companion disagrees). Fortunately, there are two things we’re able to agree on – firstly, that the addition of high tables is a good move, and secondly, that service is woefully inattentive

Sigh. At least prices are still keen.

Piping hot dough balls and an American on a Romana (super-thin) base are as good as they ever were, but calamari in a stodgy, cakey batter returns to the kitchen barely touched, while the rolled, stuffed eggplant (aubergine) dish is no worthy replacement for the seemingly discontinued Parmigiana melanzane.

Still, with bottles of grape under Dhs160 and some top tunes (will Jazz@ ever be so quiet as during local musician Chad’s super rendition of Percy Sledge’s When a Man Loves a Woman?), we’ll be back.


The bottom line
Casual, affordable eats in JLT.

After nine years, Palm restaurant Ronda Locatelli (of celebrity chef, Giorgio Locatelli fame) is one of the longest-running Italians on the city’s dining scene. It still remains fairly popular too, mostly thanks to families and holidaymakers to Atlantis The Palm.

In comparison to other eateries in its category this Italian doesn’t wow. But dishes are mostly well-flavoured and nicely presented.

We opt for delicate salt and pepper-battered prawns to start. Perfectly paired with a lemon mayo, they’re a highlight. We’re also left wanting more of the carpaccio di manzo with peppery rocket leaves and cubes of sharp beetroot, too.

An unusual pairing of rich duck ragu with spinach linguine for our main course starts off well, but becomes little monotonous halfway through and is left unfinished.

A margherita pizza meanwhile is excellent (as it should be), with fresh, plump dough.

Ronda Locatelli may not be the finest (and certainly not the cheapest) Italian you’ll find in the city, but for family-friendly dining on the Palm, you could do worse.

The bottom line
An oldie, and a relative goodie.

Bar & pub food 04 341 2575 Al Barsha

Views of Ski Dubai, plenty of screens to watch football and daily happy hours on drinks are just three reasons we’re fans of Aprés. The ski chalet stylings of the décor and the laid-back vibe are also good reasons to visit. So is the pizza, which is ace. For those who like to try something different, check out the hoisin duck option, with a white sauce. It’s like a Peking duck wrap, pizza-style.

Italian +971 4 414 3000 Business Bay

This eatery takes its name from the destination on Italy’s Amalfi Coast. It's decorated nicely, but the layout of the restaurant makes creating a buzzing vibe slightly difficult. Saying that, the food is good, especially if you're after hearty Italian without many bells and whistles. Try the Sunday evening brunch for a chance to try the full menu.

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